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French Floods

October 5, 2015

By Paul Homewood 





Sad news from France, not helped by President Hollande’s contribution:


Mr Hollande also linked the disaster to climate change ahead of landmark talks on the issue in Paris later this year.

"There have always been always catastrophes. But their rhythm and intensity are on the increase," he said, urging that environmental "decisions be taken" as France prepares to host the UN-led Paris climate talks in December.


The facts don’t agree.

According to the ABC report:

The region’s worst flood in the past 25 years was in June 2010 when 25 people were killed.

In early 1990, 81 people were killed by violent storms in the north and west of the country.

In December 1999, 92 people in France were killed by flooding, fallen trees and other storm damage caused by hurricane-strength winds that struck north-western Europe.


Weather events such as these unfortunately occur all the time.


The floods resulted from up to 180 millimetres of rain fell in just three hours, about 10 per cent of its annual rainfall, transforming the streets of Cannes, Nice and Antibes into debris-strewn rivers.


This was almost identical to the 170mm which fell on Hampstead Heath, London in 1975, all in well under three hours.


Instead of playing politics with the loss of lives, perhaps Hollande should be taking action which might reduce the impact of future floods and maybe save a few lives.

  1. October 5, 2015 12:11 pm

    There was a correspondent interviewed on the BBC last night about this and it was the first time I have heard a reporter quoting climate experts making clear this was normal and the only reason why the impacts seem worse is because the population is increasing, building more on flood plains, etc. I almost spilled my coffee.

  2. October 5, 2015 12:36 pm

    Don’t forget Boscastle in 2004. The Sporades in the Aegean have also been having a real time of it this year. Last month Skopelos, the island where Mamma Mia! was filmed, was also hit by awful flooding. One day alone saw 210mm fall in a very short time.

    The theme of all of them is that the amount of water that falls in such a short space of time is amplified by local topography. I think the City of London Corporation are now duty bound to shore up Hampstead Heath ponds at a cost of 19 million pound in case of a similar storm to 1975. If one of the ponds were to be breached and then burst it would take out much of Hampstead with inevitable loss of life.

  3. October 5, 2015 12:46 pm

    Floods problably have a greater effect now because there are more people, more buildings, more cars (to get caught in the floods) and more concrete which prevents natural drainage. Rain runs straight into the drains, which overflow. Modern roads are perfect drainage channels and the water follows them. It’s the same in the UK.

  4. dennisambler permalink
    October 5, 2015 12:52 pm

    I wonder how we would have categorised the Great Paris Flood of 1910?

    On January 28, the water reached its maximum height at 8.62 metres (28.28 feet), some 20 feet above its normal level. Estimates of the flood damage reached some 400 million francs, approximately 1.5 billion modern US dollars.

    On the other extreme, “…the year 1540 was one with an even more severe summer than was 2003. All over Europe, the heatwave lasted, off and on, for seven months, with parched fields and dried up rivers, such as the Rhine. People in Paris, France could walk on the river bed of the Seine without getting their feet wet.” :: Weather chronicler relates of medieval disasters

  5. October 5, 2015 1:32 pm

    The geography and climate of the French Riviera are perfect for floods. Firstly, little rainfall most of the time, so little money is spent on flood defenses, secondly high mountains sitting above a densely-populated coastline, so when it does rain heavily …

    • October 5, 2015 1:46 pm

      I wonder how long it will be before governments that allowed front gardens to be paved over are sued for negligence when a fatal flood occurs in, for example, Sheffield?

  6. October 5, 2015 2:57 pm

    According to some programme I heard on Radio 4 recently, about 30% of urban front gardens are now hard-paved, meaning that the instant run-off of heavy rainwater is much more likely to cause downstream flooding.

  7. October 5, 2015 3:38 pm

    On recent South Carolina floods, the Governor said:
    “we haven’t seen this level of rain, in the low country, in 1000 years.”

    I am surprised the records go back that far!

  8. October 5, 2015 5:41 pm

    1939 – a year with plenty of rain, including in France: “Southeast England recorded rainfall of more than three times above average in October 1939. Greenwich saw a higher rainfall only in 1888, and before that in 1840. Greenwich total for October (6.16 in.) and November (4.13 in.) together –10.29 inches – was the highest ever since recording had begun at Greenwich.Holland also reported rains throughout the month of October 1939. (NYT, 2 Nov. 1939). Similar condition presumably prevailed in Belgium and Northern France as well. In January 1940 NYT correspondent G. H. Archambault reported while staying with the French Armies: ”the autumn of 1939 was one of the wettest known”. (NYT, 26 Jan. 1940).” I think that in that year (and not only then) we could speak about resultant rain due to war, don’t we?

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